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The spiralling cost of fuel has had a severe impact on the operational finances ...

The spiralling cost of fuel has had a severe impact on the operational finances of many companies and organisations. Bulk diesel prices have increased by 37.5% over the last year and given that fuel can represent up to 45% of commercial vehicle operating costs, this presents a significant challenge in how pre-determined and fixed budgets are controlled. In a bid to manage the ‘fuel crunch’, Fife Council decided to invest in an IT solution in order to manage the fuel resources for its fleet of some 2,000 vehicles in 2003. Today, the return on investment that the IT solution has provided is reported to not only have repaid the initial capital layout but also provided efficiencies gained from improved administrative practices and operational effectiveness. As part of a major fuel storage and management project, Triscan fuel management systems were installed at 17 of the council’s sites, which also cater for the region’s fire service vehicles. The on-site fuel monitoring equipment, which is linked to the fuel pump, provides security via access control and sends transactional fuelling information back, via their network, to the administration centre based at the council’s HQ in Thornton, Fife. The Triscan software takes the information, which is set up and configured to meet the individual reporting requirements of the fleet management team, and presents it in an accurate up to date format. Rob McLachlan, the organisation’s Fleet Support Manager, has now used the Triscan software for four years and states: ‘We wanted to work towards compatibility with other systems to provide analysis on our fleet fuelling operations, automatically producing exception reports and alerts on any fuel transaction deviations. When you have potential problematical issues to overcome like a mixed fleet that includes fire engines and waste management vehicles, then idling time is a significant factor in determining how your fuel resource is being used; these vehicles are low mileage and low mpg due to their operational idling time. Our reports facility can easily identify individual vehicles and their fuel consumption amongst other key pieces of information. Other vehicles therefore, can be grouped separately for analysis. In addition, we have operationally devolved budgets whereby other departments or even contractors draw fuel that has to be accounted for appropriately. We have no problem in accurately reapportioning the cost to the correct area with little impact on our administrative resource.’ Fife Council spends in excess of £5mn/y on fuel. Fuel cards would not have represented a viable option in that further costs and analysis would have been associated with the management of the information, adding to the problem.

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